Saturday, May 18, 2013

Review of Promethean Theatre Ensemble's A Study in Scarlet

Once upon a time I went to a show.  It was called A Study in Scarlet and it was about Sherlock Holmes and Watson and it was based on one of the Sherlock Holmes stories.    The story is about how Sherlock Holmes (Nick Lake) and Watson (Brian Pastor) met.  It is called Study in Scarlet because that is a line Sherlock Holmes says a lot; he calls it a study because he is just getting into the business of doing detective work because this is before Sherlock Holmes really became the Sherlock Holmes.  Scarlet is the color of blood.  It is a really bright red; when you think about blood you think about red; when you think about red you think of blood...or apples.  This is not a story about apples.  

The book is by Arthur Conan Doyle and the adaptor and the director were both Paul Edwards.  I think that he wanted to do the first Sherlock Holmes story so then people could get to know Sherlock Holmes and then if Promethean does another Sherlock Holmes story, the audience that comes to see it would know what he was like when he was young and then see him get older and older and then he is finally in the business.  He is not even in the business yet at the end because he isn't given enough credit in the paper.  In sixty years, when I am sixty-eight years old, Promethean will have done all of the Sherlock Holmes stories!

Sherlock Holmes a good person but he is also a very bad person because he always puts himself before other people.  Like Mrs. Hudson's (Elaine Carlson) terrier was dying, and he made it all better and that was by mistake and then he just killed it.  He was using the dog to do an experiment.  He thought the dog was dying, but he wasn't because he made him all better.  He figured out that this medicine that was in Stangerson's (Richard Furleigh) pocket  was actually lethal.  One of the pills actually helped, but the medicine with the chemical in it actually made people die.  He was glad that he made a discovery, but he had actually hurt two people: Mrs. Hudson and that terrier.  I like him most of the time, and then I hate him because he does some horrible things.  You like him at the end because you feel sorry that he didn't get enough credit.   You like him because he is a cool person to think about.  He is cool as a character, but I don't think you'd actually like to be friends with him.

I really wanted for Watson and Alice (Cathlyn Melvin) to get married because my mom accidentally told me that Watson met his wife in a Study in Scarlet when it was actually The Sign of Four, which is another long Sherlock Holmes story.  So, I kept thinking, "Oh, he is going to meet Alice at the court. Oh, he is going to go and investigate at her house, and then they are going to meet. Or maybe she is going to come to  Sherlock Holmes at 221b Baker Street with her mother." I thought that Alice was very pretty and that she seemed good for Watson because they were both very civilized but they both seemed not to be helpless in many situations.  Like Alice, she didn't just let Drebber (Kevin Gladish) take her away.  She tried to fight back.   I really liked the little boy that was played by the same girl who played Alice.  She was also a little boy who liked to run around the street and worked for Sherlock Holmes.  I liked that that character was ordinary but that he still worked for Sherlock Holmes.  She was also a girl that Jefferson Hope (Dave Skvarla) was in love with.  He saved her from a herd of cattle that was going by, and then she kind of fell in love with him.

The murderer is.... Wait!  I can't tell you that!  Well, let's just call him 56 for now.  56 is the villain, but he is not exactly the villain.  He is responsible for the crimes, but the guy that he had killed actually did something horribly wrong. You kind of felt sorry for 56 because he was just getting back at a person who had killed someone he was in love with.  It is an interesting bad guy to have because 56 is not the bad guy really.  He was actually one of my favorite characters.  I think he was one of Conan Doyle's favorite characters too because he tried to make people sympathize for him.  You see that 56 is the murderer, and then he tells you his story.  That makes you feel even more sorry for him.  He was scary at first, and then you feel kind of scared for him even though he is not "the good guy."

There were two different characters who were also detectives: Inspector Lestrade (David Fink) and Inspector Gregson (Edward Kuffert). They took all the credit for themselves, even though they did nothing that was right on the case.  It made me feel like they were two-faced sons of a jackal. I loved not liking them.  I love not liking characters in plays because the shows would not be fun if they just made you like everybody.  These actors did a good job of making us not like them, like when they said, "Congratulate me!" even though the case was still not even half over.

There are many different people who read Sherlock Holmes and they all have different perspectives of if Sherlock Holmes is in love with Watson.  I think it would be pretty cool if they were in love, but it is pretty unlikely because Watson gets married to a woman.  In this play, they seemed like they had a relationship that was not actual romance.  But it did seem like they had a friendship. I think that the audience identifies with both Sherlock Holmes and Watson.  I am smart like Sherlock Holmes, but I think about people like Watson. You kind of want to be able to figure out all the things that Sherlock Holmes could, but you can't on the first time so you are more like Watson.

People who would like this show are people who like Sherlock Holmes, mystery, and having sympathy for villains.  People should go see this show because it is a great mystery and it is a great puzzler for the brain.  When you go and see this show, prepare yourself for a night of excitement!

Photos: Tom McGrath

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Review of The Hunting of the Snark in Hugen Hall at Strawdog Theatre Company

Once upon a time I went to show and it was called The Hunting of the Snark. It was about a crew of a ship. They were trying to find a kind of monster called a snark. It is a nonsense play, a tragedy, and also a comedy. It is basically a play of the poem by Lewis Carroll, also known as the writer of Alice in Wonderland. Most of the words in the play are said in the poem, but not every single one: like there was a pop song called "Sail" that was probably not invented in the nineteenth century. This show is funny, crazy, and all the actors seem to be having a great time.

It was cool and funny when the Bellman (Michael Mercier) had a speech and he was showing a map to everybody, but it was blank. And it was super funny when they turned it around and were like "ta da!" but it was still blank. And then they twisted it so it was kind of in a wet towel shape; then everybody was like, "Yay! That's an actual map now," but it was still blank. When the Bellman made his speech, they did a quote from Julius Caesar, which was, "Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me your ears." It wasn't exactly an appropriate quotation. They are saying "people who live in Rome," but none of the people on the ship probably lived in Rome. They probably all lived in Britain or America. But it is appropriate because some of them are friends, like his Beaver (Julia Meese), which is his pet, and countrymen--I suspect some of them might have come from the country. But the Romans part is just out of line. And I'm also not sure if they really wanted to cut off their ears. Ba dump shish!

There was a fit in the play called "The Beaver's Lesson." I know it might be a little deceiving that it is just called the Beaver's lesson, when it is actually the Beaver and the Butcher's (Casey Pilkenton) lesson. They learned that they should be friends and they should have liked each other before. I really liked this scene because there was this one part in the scene where these glowing eyes came out. They were supposed to be the eyes of the jubjub. I thought that the eyes were very interesting because they were made out of very simple materials but it was so amazing how they used them and they actually made them scary. I thought the scene was really funny because all the Butcher and the Beaver could do, when the eyes came out and were looking at them, was look terrified. The lights went out, and the Butcher said, "What is going on?" which I thought was super funny. She just had this look of shock which was awesome.

There was a really funny part of the play when they were all sleeping and snoring and the Bellman rang a bell in the ear of the Broker (Suzanna Ziko) and then she woke up and the Bellman said, "Now you wake up that other guy." And then when that other guy woke up, that guy told another guy to wake up. And so on.

I thought it was really funny when the Baker (Sarah Rose Graber) came on with 6 coats on and three pairs of boots so she was very much prepared except that she had forgotten everything else she had on the beach! And she has also forgotten her n-a-m-e. The main character is her because she has most of the interesting stuff happen to her. Like she is the only one who actually gets to meet a snark. But that is all I am going to say because I don't want to give away the ending.

People who would like a show called The Snark
Are people who like ships and soap
And railways shares, eyes that glow in the dark
Beavers, boojums, Lewis Carroll, and hope.

Photos: Kyle Hamman

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Review of Ivywild at The Hypocrites

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Ivywild. It was about a guy named Bathhouse John (Jay Torrence) who was a politician and he wanted to open up an amusement park. It was about what happened at the amusement park in these times, the early 1900s. Bathhouse John and Hinky Dink (Ryan Walters) wanted to make amusement parks even though they were terrible people. They liked to use women in the wrong way, meaning like not letting them get to vote and prostitution. And they take money from people who run gambling parlors. Bathhouse John wants to make up for the terrible things he's done by making people have a good time in his amusement park. It is possible, because they do, but it shut down because of a giant snowstorm. The main ideas are how difficult it is to be a nice person but also how easy it can be to be a bad person because Bathhouse John and Hinky Dink wanted to be good people but they weren't succeeding. Hinky Dink wants to go back to Chicago but he wants to stay at the amusement park and so they can still have The Amusement (Tien Doman) because she can't come with them. This play is about how fun is not always simple. It is also about wanting to stay somewhere when you can't.

Warning! Warning! Warning! I am going to use an old way of doing a review. Do not panic. The old way is that I am going to talk about each person in a separate paragraph instead of talking about the different scenes. Thank you for listening to this announcement.

Kurt Chiang played May de Sousa, Little Walt and Marion Drake. I thought that all these characters were very different. I thought he did a great job expressing each one. I felt sorry for May de Sousa because she had such a bad life. I think that Little Walt wants to help his boss Bathhouse John, but he also doesn't like some of the decisions that he is making. I thought that it might have been cool if Little Walt was Walt Disney. He liked elephants a lot; maybe that inspired him for Dumbo. Most of his movies are about princesses and that might have been inspired by his good friend Princess the elephant.

There was an elephant named Princess and she was played by Anthony Courser. She was also a pickpocket. I know that sounds crazy! How can an elephant be a pickpocket? Well, at least now we know what those long trunks are for! Ba-dump-pshh. Princess is also a drunk. Courser was always just the best drunk elephant ever! He is always drunk and he makes his voice sound so high-pitched and drunk. And also his outfit (by Alison Siple) was supposed to look like a princess, but it looked like a dress that was a hundred years old, and it looked pretty cool that way. He is supposed to be a princess who is drunk.

The main character was Bathhouse John and he was the owner of the Amusement park. I thought it was funny how he wore these big yellow shoes. The yellow shoes told us that he's not embarrassed about wearing funny outfits. I think that he thinks he is being awesome and funny. He was kind of the bad guy and also kind of the good guy. He was the good guy because people like the main character because they know about him more and he was the bad guy because he did a lot of bad things but he tried to make up for the bad things he did and that made him kind of a good guy. His smile was kind of uncomfortable. And you kind of felt sorry for him but you also thought he should feel like this because he did all these horrible things.

Bathhouse John's best friend was named Hinky Dink. I really like the name Hinky Dink because it was funny but also kind of cool. He was also kind of a good guy and kind of a bad guy, kind of like Bathhouse John. He wants to be a hero and he wants everybody to like him; he wanted to go back to Chicago where he could get more medals. He is trying to help Bathhouse John because he thinks it is better to go back to Chicago, but it is actually kind of not. I think that they were in love. I think they had kind of a mixed relationship. I think that Bathhouse John was kind of also in love with The Amusement.

There was a character that was called The Amusement or The Muse. The Amusement was represented by a girl with tuberculosis. You know she had tuberculosis because her dress was bloody and she coughed into handkerchiefs and blood came out. She was kind of supposed to be the amusement park but she was also kind of the prostitutes who had tuberculosis. I think that they had this character in the play because she was supposed to represent how the amusement park had been shut down and how when spring and summer came she would come back to life. I think she is having a good time when it is summer and spring and the amusement park would be open. But when winter come she dies again; for two seasons she is alive and for two seasons she is dead. I think that they made The Amusement sick because the amusement park kind of was sick. I found it scary but I did think it was important to have The Amusement.

I thought that the set by Lizzie Bracken was very important to the play. The set made me feel like I was in a real old-fashioned amusement park. There is a tunnel of love and the top and the bottom of a merry-round with two little swings on it. The swings I thought were a great touch because they were so cute but they also looked like one of those swing rides like at Navy Pier. I really liked the amazing little amusement park rides by Dan Rumney that come down at the end. You should look out for them because they are awesome.

I actually got to participate in the show! If you like acting, then you should put on a dress or a hat--not just any dress or hat, the ones on the seats, if they aren't taken yet. They they will take you on one of the rides. Just so you know, do not wear the hat if you don't like strobe lights or they make you sick. I wore one of the dresses and I got to go on something called "under and over the sea." That was a really fun ride. The roller coster also seemed fun. "Under and over the sea" was really fun because it was trying to be like a real amusement park ride, which it was--only this time you could kind of see the hand that was holding whatever you were looking at. After each ride, you get a prize. I got a pickle that was half-way eaten. I had a few nibbles. And I also got some soda which I thought was the best prize of all. For some reason there was the hat seat that was open and somebody that worked on the show came up to two audience members and said you can wear this hat for the show and then you get to participate in it. But then they just glared at her. What is so horrible about getting to participate in a show? Some people just want to watch the show, but I just don't really understand it. You should participate because it is a-w-e-s-o-m-e!

People who would like this show are people who like amusement parks, yellow shoes, and pickles. People should go see this show because it is funny, sad, and lets you go on amusement park rides. I don't think you should take little kids to this one, because it is kind of scary.

Photos: Matthew Gregory Hollis

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Review of Comrades Mine at City Lit

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Comrades Mine. It was about a girl named Emma (Justine C. Turner) who fought in the Civil War as a man. And she had a bunch of friends that she met in the war. The play is about what happened during this war and what she experienced. She doesn't stay for the entire war because she deserts the war. Desertion is like the worst thing you can do during the war; it means to leave the place that you took in the war. She got sick and was wounded but she didn't want to go to the hospital because she didn't want anybody to find out she was girl because then they might ask her to leave the war because women couldn't fight at this time in history. They just wanted women to stay home or be a nurse and not get to do any of the adventurous work. They didn't want them to get hurt because they thought that they were weak. But women are not weak; they are awesome! They are as awesome as men. Emma Edmonds was also a spy. This is what I think of girl spies. Wooo hooo! This show is about how people get to know each other and, when they change, it just doesn't really feel right. There is a way to overcome it by getting to know them in the way they are now.

There were two characters that were clerks. There names were Nate (Manny Buckley) and Charley (Nate Santana). They are researching to try to get Emma a pension because I think they think that since she served for 2 years, which is a half of the war, that she should get money. I think the author (Maureen Gallagher) put them in the play to show us that they are really good friends but racism is still going on. I think that in this time things weren't good enough for black people because they couldn't go into places other people could without getting hurt. There aren't slaves, but there is racism, which is one of my least favorite things in the world. Nate and Charley are always talking about where they can eat food together, but black people are not welcome in all places, so Nate is kind of nervous. They were also really funny, because it was funny how they were always talking about where they could eat. There was something really funny that happened. At the end of the show, when Nate tells Charley, "I found a good place we can eat." Charley says, "How's the stew?" and then Nate says, "Horrible."

There was a scene when Emma told Jerome (Bryan Breau) that she was in love with him and she also told him she was a girl. Two big things in one scene! He is like really surprised because he's like: "You're a boy!" This is before gay marriage was really known about as gay marriage. I liked that it was romantic: that she just pronounced that she was in love with him without being like, "maybe he doesn't like me." If I were just going to tell someone that I was in love with them, I would have thought about all the things that could go wrong. But she just thought "I have to tell him! I just have to! Or otherwise it might be too late!" It is sad but also romantic that she just wanted to tell him. It is kind of sad when we find out at the end of the play that she could have married him because the girl that Jerome was betrothed to got married to another guy.

There was a really funny part when Emma meets a guy that is wearing a kilt (Joseph Stearns) and she is just looking at him like, "Why is this guy wearing a skirt?" Because he's of Scottish descent. He is from New York and New York fought in the Civil War. I think this scene is in the play because it is kind of funny that she is like "why are you wearing a skirt" but he just wants to tell people about his history. She's like, you're a man and wearing a skirt and I'm a woman and wearing pants."

One of my favorite characters was Poe (Brad Harbaugh) because he gave Emma the job of spying. She has to find out about what the other side is going to do. Her plan is to dress up like a slave, but then Caleb (Manny Buckley) said that wouldn't work because they know the difference between a black person and a white person. So then she decided to dress a woman! Caleb was one of the most touching parts, and I was actually crying. His two friends had died trying to cross so then they could be free. When she says she's sorry about his two friends and he had to say one of the names, he looked so sad and lonely--it was just horrifying.

When Emma tells her friends Milton (Brian J. Hurst), Damon (John Arthur Lewis) and Will Shakespeare (Peter Eli Johnson) that she is a woman, they all have different kinds of reactions. I know that you are thinking, "Wait, her friend was Will Shakespeare? He was dead like 200 years ago!" But this isn't the Will Shakespeare. He wasn't a playwright. He was just a Will Shakespeare. He was just like, "Wow! That's like totally ridiculous. He was a boy. You're a girl! That's awesome!" And Damon's reaction was like, "I get to finally see you again even though you deserted us and you're a girl now!" He understands why she deserted because of her being a girl and doctors usually take off people's clothes when they go to the doctor's or the hospital. And Milton has the exact opposite reaction of what Damon and Will had. His was, "You're a girl! I hate you now!" I found it sad that Milton was like really really mad, like hated her, for doing that. There is one second where he is not angry at her, and that is like the last scene of the play.

People who would like the show are people who like the Civil War, girls that dress up like guys, and Will Shakespeare. People should go see this show because it is funny but also very touching. It is the coolest way to learn about the Civil War because it is a play! You get to see funny things as well as historic things.

Photos: Tom McGrath

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Review of The Silent Language at TUTA

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called The Silent Language. The Silent Language is about a man named Gasho the Poor (Max Lotspeich) and he was trying to rescue a princess (Carolyn Molloy) who was captured by an evil Elf (Aaron Lawson). And the Elf was best friends with the Boogeyman (Sean Ewert). It is called The Silent Language because that's what he wanted for a wish for saving the snake princess (Molloy). The silent language is where you can understand any animal language. You can also hear what trees and grass whisper. This is a useful thing for him because otherwise he would't be able to save the princess because the birds said, "You should go rescue the princess." It is about how you should never give up because Gasho keeps going when the Elf tries to hurt him. It is also about how you should try to understand people and also nature and not be like, "I can't understand and I won't even try."

I am going to put two things in this paragraph. One thing that is scary, and then I will make you feel better by telling you about one of the funniest things in the show. They both have to do with things that happen when you can't see the actors that are doing these things. So, close your eyes and imagine you are sitting in your chair during a play. You see that three of the actors are looking behind you and shivering. You turn around and you see the shadow of the Boogeyman behind you. You will start to panic. Then, when he jumps out, you are relieved that he has finally come out. You think for a second, "I don't want my feet to be eaten by the boogeyman," so you pull up your feet as close to you as possible so until the Boogeyman leaves the stage (and maybe longer) you will have your feet up there. It was cool that it was scary. Now, here is the part I think you are going to find funny. When you walk in, there is just this guy (Lotspeich) playing the guitar. When it finally starts, you can hear from backstage the words "Honk! Honk! Honk! Honk!" It is funny because you can just hear a bunch of honks coming from backstage and you have no idea what the source of them is. I think the director (Jacqueline Stone) made the decision to do things from backstage so that it would be mysterious. Mysterious is funny, scary, and both!

And then you will find out what the source of that honk-honk-honking about is. It is two geese (Angela Bullard and Ewert) and they were both wearing very fancy clothes and just honk-honking. You cannot understand the geese at first, until Gasho learns the silent language. I thought that these geese might have been some of my favorite characters because they were so hilarious.

I though the costumes (by Branimira Ivanova) were really really great. I liked the Snake's costume because it looked so much like a snake, and I also thought it was very graceful and pretty, like a snake should be. The Princess's costume looked casual, until you got to her hair. It was made out of yarn, but she was still pretty. Her hair was cool. When it said Elf in the program, I thought, "oh he's just supposed to be a Santa elf or something." The costume showed me that he was a very evil guy because he had this crown that was all twisted and like horns. There was also a frog costume that was basically just a Chinese hat with rope eyes on it. And then the Frog (Aaron Lawson) said, "You should go and ask the Learned Frog," and then they went down and the same frog hopped up and he had a monocle! I thought how he just changed was so funny.

There was a scene where Gasho was just by his home. He had just learned the silent language, and then he could hear these birds talking. There was a little bird (Jaimelyn Gray) and then the mother bird (Laurie Larson) came in. I liked this scene because the baby bird and the mama bird actually started him out on his quest by telling him about the evil elf and about the beautiful princess. And then he fell in love with the princess before he even knew what she looked like really. If you were to say that she was a princess who could not do anything and was so helpless, that would be very very not was she is. She was a princess, but she didn't faint into people's arm every single second. And she did help in the fight. At the very end, she does faint into his arms, but not because she is weak but because that's what the story tells the princess to do. I suspect that Gasho might teach her how to sword fight and stuff.

Boy. Fig. Bun. Sorry, I was just doing magic, and that is what this paragraph is about. Not about me doing magic, but about a real sorceress (Larson) doing magic. She used three-letter-word magic. You just say three-letter words and the magic will happen. I have been trying this; that is why the beginning of this paragraph sounded like that. Three-letter words are magic because you need three to do a lot of things. You can make a shape with three lines, but you can't make a shape with two. That's just two lines! You go from something that is not all joined to something better, all joined together. The connections that you can have with family and friends can be magical. Just saying three-letter words can make you feel like you're doing magic.

I always thought that the Boogeyman was just a big bag of things that had bugs inside of it because I saw The Nightmare Before Christmas. But this Boogeyman was way way way scarier because he had this giant nose and he kind of looked like an evil snowman. Not that I'm scared of evil snowmen. I was scared of his nose and his hair which was all knotted and tangled. His nose look like a giant wrinkly old carrot, and he was wearing this top hat, and he had a deep scary voice. You shouldn't really be scared of him because the actor who plays the Boogeyman's first line is "honk." And he is also known as a goose. Nobody is really scared of a goose, and he is just an actor. I was enjoying being afraid. It was kind of fun to be afraid, but also, kind of scary. The Boogeyman was kind of funny still because he said, "Whisper my horrible boo. 'Boo!'" And he just said it with this lack of enthusiasm which sounded super super funny.

People who would like this show are people who like three-letter-word magic, fairy tales, and learned frogs. I think this show should be for ages exactly 8 and up. I think I was just ready for it. This show is Big! Fun! And! Awe! Sum!

Photos: Anthony Robert La Penna